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HELP! Cleaning/deodorizing a Mercato Atlas 150 pasta maker......

Well, I *thought* I got a great deal from Ebay.... I won a bid for a hand crank pasta maker for $13.

HOWEVER... when I opened the priority mail shipping box, I was hit over the head with stinky, funky cigarette smoke.

The idea of rolling my pasta through this thing is not terribly appealing right now, and this problem is compounded by the fact that apparently you're never supposed to wash pasta makers with water. (does anyone know why this is?)

So, I need your help... how do I deodorize and sanitize my new pasta maker? Or is this $13 a total loss?


Mr Taster

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  1. How about making a batch of pasta dough with a lot of baking soda in it and running it through all the rollers a few times? You could probably leave out the eggs.

    1. You don't want to use water because some of the parts are not stainless and will rust.

      Try making a batch of pasta dough with a lot of baking soda added, and run it through the rollers and cutters a few time. I've never actually done this, but the theory is sound.

      1. Try nature's deodorizers:

        You can try stashing it someplace for a few days with charcoal briquettes packed around it.
        Or pack it with baking soda put into a some sort of fine mesh bag (or a few). Some large capacity empty tea bags would work great. Or clean panty hose.

        1. I have read that baking soda as a deodorizer is unfortunately a kitchen myth, millions of boxes in refrigerators not-withstanding.

          I would go ahead and soak it in hot soapy water, and then just be sure to rinse it well and put it in a warm oven or blow a hairdryer on it to dry it. I think the "don't wash" rule has more to do with not wanting to make glue out of the flour that remains inside the machine, than to parts that might rust.

          8 Replies
          1. re: DGresh

            I agree about washing. Add some lemon juice or white vinegar to the water - and plenty of dish soap. Afterwards, as DGresh says, dry thoroughly and immediately in a warm oven. If you get it dried quickly it won't have any time to rust. Also, you might want to make a throw-away batch of dough - with a bit of oil in it - and run through the rollers and cutters right after it's dry to make sure everything is well lubricated.

            Congratulations on the bargain. I'm currently looking for a good one myself on ebay. My son wants one and I'd never want to discourage that sort of thing.

            1. re: DGresh

              Do NOT do this, your pasta machine will seize on you -- I've seen it before. There gears/moving parts in the housing that you won't be able to dry effectively. Maybe a light wash with a damp rag, but do not soak it!

              1. re: mateo21

                All I know is that in my experience my husband washed my machine (before I had a chance to tell him not to). It didn't cause any lasting damage. I believe that you've seen it though.

                1. re: DGresh

                  i am with mateo21. After all, the instructions on the machine are extremely specific... NEVER wash with water.

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    Well if your choice is throwing away a potentially great machine, or risking a chance... hey it only cost you $13. I'm skeptical of any of the baking soda ideas, but go ahead and try those first. But how are you going to get the flavor of bitter baking soda out of the machine?

                    I'd first give a try to sitting it out in the sunshine and fresh air for awhile. Then washing it :)

                    1. re: DGresh

                      I agree with DGresh - when all else fails, I'd risk a wash rather than having to toss out the machine. HOWEVER, you might also try one of the following things: seal in a box with lots of crumpled newspapers for several weeks. Newspaper is supposed to absorb odors. Another idea - activated charcoal AND newspaper. Or bury in a layer of that volcanic stone stuff that's supposed to eliminate odors.

                      If it were mine, I'd do the wash. In fact, what I would do is put it in the dishwasher - hot cycle - with the heater turned on to dry. And then into a warm oven for a few hours. Immediately afterwards t I would run some slightly oily pasta dough through the rollers to lubricate. I just don't think it would have time to seize up. But of course I could be wrong and you'd be out $13.

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        The issue is not that the machine cost $13 (plus $12.50 S&H). The issue is that this machine is worth $80-$100, and there's no guarantee I'd be able to get another in good physical condition for this price.

                        Incidentally, the instructions recommend lubricating the mechanism with a small dab of mineral oil, not vegetable oil.

                        Incidentally, I've aired it out and blow dried it with an industrial fan, and the cigarette smoke seems to have pretty much dissipated at this point.

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Well that's good news. Maybe it won't need a drastic intervention. I understand about the $$$ - I would feel the same way. But I do find that directions on appliances (not electrical ones, obviously) tend to be a bit overkill in terms of caution, so I'm used to pushing the envelope a bit. And I've been lucky, most of the time.

            2. It's all metal, so there's not much chance that the odors have actually penetrated the surface. Wipe it down good, then set it outside in a place with plenty of sunlight and fresh breezes. Betcha it'll be fine in a few days.

              4 Replies
              1. re: alanbarnes

                Indeed, over the past few days it does seem to have improved tremendously. I think any lingering odor may be whatever is trapped in the lubricating oil on the roller mechanism. I'll likely do a couple of "cleaning batches" of pasta before making my first batch for eating.

                Mr Taster

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    I think I may have made that once back in the day before I quit.

                  2. re: Mr Taster

                    And lubricating with mineral oil is good advice, but make sure it's food grade mineral oil, which is basically baby oil without the perfume. You can find it at just about any drug store, also IKEA (look near the cutting boards).

                1. We lent our pasta maker to someone who then proceeded to wash it. When It came back it squeaked and squealed. I took the rollers apart and oiled them - now it's (almost) as good as before.

                  If it had been washed and dried (in an oven / blow drier / vacuum cleaner etc) then it would have had no problems.

                  1. Haven't read all the way down, but it sounds like you're making progress with the "descenting". Shoot, I'd never for a minute have thought that a metal pasta machine would hold on to the cigarette smell so strongly, but you say it's pretty much dissipated by now, so I'm going to vote on setting it in the bright sunlight (maybe covered with some kind of mesh if there are a lot of birds around your area) and let the UV do its thing for a few days, if it's going to be sunny out, that is. And bring it inside at night when the humidity goes up.

                    I think I know how you feel- sometimes it's the idea rather than the cost, plus not wanting to throw something that's otherwise good into the trash, but I'd for sure throw out the first batch of pasta I rolled through it, which shouldn't cost you too much more for your investment. You shouldn't have to use eggs, or semolina, or anything else fancy, but a little bicarb might not be a bad idea.
                    Good luck! Let us know how it turns out.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: EWSflash

                      Old topic, but I need to bump because I have a cleaning issue...I've been diagnosed with celiac disease and my Atlas 150 pasta maker has been used for regular flour noodles, albeit several years ago. I just dug it out of the closet and need to totally clean it out. My first inclination would be to take it apart as much as I can, wash it, dry it thoroughly (maybe in a warm oven or in the sun), then oil the cylinders and put it back together. Anyone have any suggestions? Thoughts? No, I"m not going to buy a new one. :)

                      1. re: ChristineS

                        My husband once kindly washed my atlas for me. First I gasped, then I just put it in a warm oven for awhile. No problems. So I think your idea should work fine.

                        1. re: ChristineS

                          My (I think ampia?) machine started eating it's gears and I took it apart to see what was the problem. IMPOSSIBLE to get it back together if it's the kind that the roller and cutting wheels are in the same housing. I'd blow it out with canned air and run maybe a wet rag through it (on an appropriate setting) to see what you can get out.

                          1. re: ChristineS

                            Here's what I would do. First open the rollers to the widest possible opening and poke out any visible bits of flour and whatnot with a toothpick. The cutting blades don't open, so just brush them with a stiff brush as well as possible. RUN EVERYTHING THROUGH THE DISHWASHER - heresy, I know - and then put them in a warm oven to dry for a couple of hours, to make sure that no moisture remains to rust up the works. After all this, make a very oily dough and run it through the rollers and cutters until nothing more comes out. I'm not sure what you're making your dough out of - rice flour? Bean flour? I have no idea. But whatever your regular pasta dough recipe is, use more oil and less egg so that it's going to act as an internal oiler. You wouldn't want to eat this dough, of course, but it will help grease the machine and, in the meantime, also clean out the rollers etc. The more you use it after it's been cleaned, the better - you want those gears well lubricated. After that, it should be fine.